GateHouse offers to end eternal pay freeze

Dec 12, 2017 by

Bargaining between the NewsGuild-CWA and GateHouse Media has resulted in a global agreement for all Guild represented newspapers currently owned by GateHouse.

Those newspapers include United Media Guild units at the Peoria Journal Star, State Journal-Register, Pekin Daily Times, Rockford Register Star and Freeport Journal Standard.

The global agreement includes wage increases to wages and scales and frozen healthcare premiums for 2018 and 2019:

  • 1.00% wage increase effective September 1, 2018.
  • 1.75% wage increase effective October 1, 2019.
  • For calendar year 2018 health insurance premiums and plan design including, but not limited to benefit levels, co-payments, co-insurance, out of pocket maximums and deductibles for Guild employees shall remain at 2017 levels.  In those units where 2017 premium amounts paid by employees were based on 2016 premiums maintained under status quo terms or otherwise, like Rockford, the 2018 premium amounts paid by employees will remain at 2017 levels.
  • Health insurance premiums for calendar year 2019 shall remain at 2017 levels, but plan design including benefit levels, co-payments, co-insurance, out of pocket maximums and deductibles shall be equivalent to those offered to non-union employees in the same newspaper organization for 2019.

    Springfield journalists stand up for their craft.

  • Contractual terms or status quo terms regarding health insurance matters other than plan design shall not be impacted  and remain unchanged in 2019. These would include, but are not limited to existing premium catch-up subsidies; percentage of premium shares (employer/employee); deductible reimbursements; reimbursements; reimbursements to bargaining unit employees for co-insurance amounts; lump sum payments to employees with alternative health coverage, as well as dental, vision, EAP, life insurance and other insurance coverage. However, these matters are subject to additional bargaining.
  • The parties have also agreed to a joint process to analyze The United Furniture Workers Health Insurance Fund for Guild bargaining-unit employees at GateHouse properties. The joint process will take place between January 10 and April 15, 2018 and, if successful, will allow locals to negotiate, even mid-contract term, for UFW coverage that could allow members to share in any cost savings.

Each unit will vote on the global economic agreement, preferably before January 1, 2018. This is NOT a complete collective bargaining agreement, so members in Rockford and Springfield working without a contract would not have to pay union dues if they approve this agreement.

Individual units approving the agreement will proceed to Stage Two bargaining starting in early 2018 with a deadline of June 30, 2018.

Stage Two bargaining will be conducted in a “Table”-style bargaining process with locals with commonality grouped together. In our case, Peoria and Pekin would be together in one group and Rockford/Freeport and Springfield would be in another.

Bargaining ground rules and a structure for the “Table” bargaining are currently being crafted, but each local would have their representatives present for the bargaining sessions. We will have more information on that in January.

If any newspaper fails to reach a settlement in Stage Two bargaining by June 30, the Guild can resume most components of its corporate campaign against GateHouse.

Units that vote down this global economic proposal will forgo the scheduled raises and insurance protections and continue bargaining with GateHouse in the traditional fashion with the goal of gaining more. Those units are free to engage in internal and external mobilization within their markets as part of that process.

And after June 30, 2018, those units without new contracts could also participate in a larger corporate campaign against GateHouse.

Our goal in this process was to create a more constructive relationship with GateHouse. This could be a starting point — since some of our units have gone a decade with across-the-board raises — but there is still much work to be done.

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